Beginning of term.

I feel behind at home.  I long to get a good day in and catch up.  My floors need a vacuum/mop, I need to catch up on baking for lunch boxes and just generally get my thoughts and house in order.  It is not terrible but I feel it in myself.  I need regular days at home to potter and sort out my thoughts.  Trying to live simply takes time and it all slips when I'm lacking time.  If I don't post much over this week it's because I'm catching up at home.  I'll be back soon!      ❤️

There are half days at kindy this week and that means a lot of to-and-fro-ing.  Next week I will hopefully be able to get back into rhythm.  Grant is still recovering from his illness and slowly over the period he has been unwell things have slipped here as I have been trying to give him a rest. 

Play groups are back on, school is back.  I help with a church mothers group and another community mothers group.  I have decided to step down from the community one as I have a few other things in the pipeline this year with church and I need to be very careful about how many balls I have in the air.  One thing I have learnt throughout the various stages of my life is my limits.  There can only be so much I have on the go or it quickly unravels into total chaos.  Not unlike the night before school started....... 

Williams new teacher is going to think we are total idiots....He has a giant pencil case when she specifically said small, as dear old day dreamer Will got his message confused and clearly zoned out some where between "pencil case" and "large" and missed every word prior to those and after, most importantly missing the word "not" as in "not large".

When getting his school bag down I quickly realized William hadn't emptied his lunch bag like I asked at the end of term.... It wasn't pretty after 6 weeks of school holidays....it was so bad I'm was stuck washing his school bag at 10:00pm the night before school starts..... fortunately it was dry by morning.....and the lunch bag is waaayyy beyond salvage and had to be tossed.

Then the contacting of the books has gone from bad to worse. We got giant bubbles in the first, so we were trying hard not to scar our child by having bubbly books (because who wants to be THAT mum right?!) so we were DETERMINED to do better. This time I decided to stick the front cover sheet on the contact first and then lay the book carefully on it with tape joining them. Thus ensuring no gaping of the paper and a smooth transfer of contact.....it was a sound plan, really it was.....but some how I was concentrating so hard on trying to avoid bubbles I managed to put the label page on back-to-front and upside down......

Me being me found the entire growing ridiculousness of the situation hilarious. I absolutely howled with laughter and had tears streaming down my face as I gasped to get a breath. So much so I woke a sleeping Henry who was down the other end of the house. Meanwhile grant looked at me like I was perhaps the dumbest person he had ever seen. 7 years of tertiary education between us and we still can't cover books.....#parentingfail #youmarriedme #welcometoyr2.  😂 😂 😂 😂 😂

6

Gussy turns 4...

I can't believe my beautiful Gussy (Angus) has turned four. He is such a blessing in our lives. He is cheeky, stubborn and delightfully affectionate. He brings fits of laughter into our home and lives every day.

I remember his birth like it is etched into my memory. He was delivered by a midwife who has now become one of my very closest friends and her family are like family to ours. He was a prefect bundle that came in a storm of chaos that was the period after the flood., he arrived just 5 weeks later. His birth was text book perfect, I was surrounded by love and I felt the protective hand of God on our lives. Two of my most reassuring pieces of scripture are....

Joshua 1:5 (NIV) No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

and....

Matthew 11:28-30New International Version (NIV)28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Despite the stress we were under in trying to get our feet back on the ground after the flood I always felt this in my heart. I felt God stepped into my life and lightened my load and for that I am forever changed and grateful. He brought people into our lives who helped pull us up, dust us off as we tried to figure out what our "new" life looked like and who loved us unconditionally. What an amazing thing to experience, both the beginning of a new chapter with our new baby boy and the closing of an old as we moved from our little hobby property.  

On Gussy's birthday we kept the day simple. There was an early start......(note the Christmas paper wrapping paper?! I was totally out of plain paper....#parentingfail)





There was some pressies to open. The toothless I sewed him was a hit and has been his constant companion since! He also got some "art" for his wall and a wooden tea set as he loves to have and pretend to make cups of tea.




Here the finished toothless.....The pattern for him is HERE



Then we had a delicious breakfast at a friends house and our kids and their kids played beautifully while we adults got to have a good natter about all things rural living/buying a few acres and simple living.
We put up his new plane 'art' and put the new quilt my parents gave him on his bed.  He was very excited!



There was a simple homemade butter cake decorated with butter icing and planes for this flying-obsessed little boy! We had our good family friends over for an afternoon cuppa and piece of cake.





all in all it was a beautiful relaxing day. <3


Hope all the parents and children are easing back into school routine.  May it be a gentle and happy beginning of term as exciting new chapters open.
xx

 

 

4

Converting our shed....

When we bought this house, we were conscious of a very tight budget.  We bought it because it was a well build home, with a huge yard.  But it is a small home.  We had just come off a couple of acres prior to the flood and the most important thing to us was the yard to give the boys space play, the dogs to run, room to grow veggies and  have chooks.  It has beautiful shade throughout the day.  Though when we bought the property the yard resembled a tip with about 8 tailor loads of rubbish/scrap metal in it.  But we could see past that.  The house was also empty with grotty carpet and its broken kitchen which was part of the reason we were able to negotiate a good lump off the asking price.  If you can see past the surface problems in a house you can save a huge ton of money.  

One of the plans we always had was to build a big shed (4bays) and then line out half into a spare room/sewing room/second lounge room.  We got quotes for an extension but at over $100,000 it was out of our budget.

It took us a couple of years to get to it as we dealt with the kitchen, bathroom and gardens first but it was recently done and the space for my sewing and to have a spare bed set up is just amazing.  We have put the TV out there which means to watch TV has to be a conscious decision.  It takes away the habbit of sitting in the lounge and turning the telly on.  And I have a full size desk for my sewing which means no more constant packing up/unpacking!

As usual when buying materials Grant scoured Gumtree for second had/excess building materials.  He bought the timber for the walls second hand but used new timber for the ceiling.  Also he found the insulation on Gumtree.  Brand new and unused but someone had bought too much for a job and they were getting rid of the excess cheap.  We found a brand new, uninstalled but older style air conditioner for about $300, the paint was left over from other jobs.  The rest was bought new.  I cant remember the total cost of the project now as we did it over time a little bit here and a little bit there.  I think the materials were around $2,500 and Grant did most of the labor himself.



Henry burying the Ronnie in the insulation.  Ronnie loved it! (it is a modern poly fiber insulation - like the stuff that's in quilts/pillows etc.  We researched its safety prior to letting the kids touch it don't worry.  Insulation has changed a lot over the years from the itchy fibrous stuff that was around when I was a kid.)

Our kids are always around us when we work on anything.  They help out here and there or go find something to do.  I think it is important for them to be surrounded by work.  They absorb knowledge by watching and getting the opportunity to ask questions as we go.  And often help out too.  It makes the job slower, sometimes it is frustrating but watching, asking and doing is how we all learn. 

Here Grant is painting the shed, nearly done...
 

And here is the room nearly finished, its just waiting on its skirting boards, curtains and light fittings.....Its a comfortable room and a nice space to be in. 
 

My sewing desk is under the window for lots of natural light.  I have storage!!
 

xx




8

Our week!

Mornings are often far too early for my liking here.  I have an early bird, who no matter what time he is put to bed is up at the crack of dawn.  It must be the way he is built! 


Picnics are something we don't do enough of.  We often go for a bushwalk but don't stop for an actual picnic.  We went to our national park and discovered kids had been busy building huts! 



So we had our picnic inside which the kids loved.  Home made bread, Aussie ham off the bone and fresh chocolate cake were on the menu.


I always make soup for lunch during the week.  Healthy, cheap and instant food which is packed full of goodness.  Finished with herbs from the garden makes it so satisfying.


And making chicken broth for the unwell boys in my house.  Grant is still battling his bug but getting better slowly and little Henry has a virus too.  He has had a wheezy, tight chest and despite dealing with serious asthma in my eldest for many years, moderate asthma in my middle boy, and being a nurse by trade little ones with tight chests make me extremely worried.  Fortunetly he seems to be on the mend.  

Every time the boys get sick, especially asthma I am reminded how lucky we are to live in this amazing country with modern medicine that helps open their small, sensitive airways.  It is certainly something to give thanks for!

And I have been sewing Gussy's birthday pressie at night this week too.  It's nearly finished now. Here is his head. It's 'Toothless' from 'how to train your dragon.'  I should finish him tonight and will post a picture next week.  Along with the post about our lined out shed.  I didn't get a chance this week.  

Hope everyone has a relaxing and safe long weekend.  We are looking forward to catching up with family and friends and also a bit of rest in there too.  

Xx
8

Bare with me!

Please bare with me as I learn about blogger and how to add/change things like headers, backgrounds and gadgets - the little do-flickys on the side bar....Technology is not my strong point! 

xx
2

Part three - Donating/rotating/managing toys

So with the regular influx of gifts for the boys, during birthdays, Christmas and other random times toys and such appear on our door step we are constantly sorting/donating/binning.  We try to ensure too much doesn't come in but people are generous! (This still strikes me as an absurd problem to have when people are starving in the world...)

Before these special events we do a once over the toys and gather a bag or so to fill to either donate or throw out anything that is past it or junky.

I have talked to the boys from the very earliest ages about how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful, cozy little home.  I have talked about the blessings of having "enough" and that there are many people who are not as fortunate as we are.  But that their parents love them so much and want to be able to provide for them but sometimes life is really hard., maby they are unwell, maby they didn't get to go to school like we did, maby they have had a run of bad luck and their parents are struggling to find work.  I have talked about them trying to imagine what it would be like if we didn't have "enough" and I describe what that might look like.  We are very honest with our children about life.  I want them to grow up knowing the diversity of people who make up our world, the rich and the poor and the in between.  Most importantly that there is often very little difference between us all and that quite frankly all it takes is a set of bad circumstances for life as we know it to change in a heartbeat. 

Our eldest is especially very empathetic, he often donates his pocket money to charity, he happily goes through his toys and donates what he doesn't use.  He is not made to feel pressured or guilty about the process.  We make it a loving time where he thinks about others, which I feel is very important in children who are naturally ego-centric!  If there are two toys that are very similar sometimes I will let them choose which one he wants to keep and which one they want to donate.  He takes great pride in donating his toys.  Gussy is happy to donate too, he is not overly attached to most of the toys in the house.  But I don't think he has the same social conscious as William at this stage.  William was born a wise old man.  Just like my Grant.  But Gussy is happy enough to pop toys in a bag to "help people".  Henry is too young but its interesting that the more children I have the less I realize they actually need and each child we become more streamlined with the "baby" orientated things in the house.  My eyes have certainly been opened to the power of commercialism and consumerism that's for sure!  I have wasted more money then I would have liked too.  Ahh the value of hindsight. 

I think it is important for children to look at their belongings to identify what they use and what they don't and what positive things they can do with the 'excess'.  Its a life long skill to not expect "things" to bring us joy and comfort.  I wan to teach my boys to turn to God, family and friends in time of distress rather then valuing possessions or filling their life with "stuff" which can never never fill a void no matter how lovely the item is.  (Trust me I have tried!)

At times it has been difficult for the boys to donate....At these times I break up the task and we do only a few things at once and I pop them in a bag which is kept OUT OF SIGHT.  (that is they key to success!) I think de-cluttering is like a muscle.  At first it can be tricky to make decisions to get rid of things as we form emotional attachments to our belongings but if we keep using it, it becomes easier and we get a stronger sense of what we are donating and keeping.  And eventually it becomes FUN!  For me now donating a couple of bags of stuff is more rewarding then going on a shopping spree used to be.  And if you know how much I used to like shopping well....that's saying something!

I think its the knowledge I will never have to dust/tidy/pick up/maintain those unused items again.  I don't want to spend my time a slave to my house!  I want my house to be a place I come to relax, unwind, to spend time investing in family and friendships rather then housework.  The less "crap" we have in the house the more I am able to do this, and same goes for the boys.

One of the biggest motivators in getting the boys to de-clutter was showing them how fast they could tidy their room.  Suddenly no more nagging from me and no more whining from them!  its a 5 minute job and so they can cope with it.

And if they do start to complain I respond by, "Ok, that's fine, if you don't want to be tidying it up I'm happy to donate it to charity for you.  You have 10 minutes to clean up what you want and anything left Ill pop in a bag for you and take it away so you don't need to worry about it."  Sometimes they pro-actively come to me with a few things they don't want, usually it all gets packed away.  ;)

Hope you have a lovely day!

xx

 
4

Part 2- identifying what we wanted our childrens play space to look like.

I noticed quite early on a difference in how different toys were played with and the different vibe they brought to the house.  With a house of three very boisterous boys (often verging on completely feral!!) I wanted to bring calm, thoughtful and CONSCIOUS play inside.  Outside they are more then welcome to jump, roll, run, crash etc but inside is a space for more orderly, quieter play.  We have a small house and I just cant have 3 kids trashing the place.  I want to teach the kids to respect what we have, to maintain it and look after it.

Noisy, battery operated I noticed don't, as a rule encourage this kind of play.  (In my children) When the boys had battery toys they smashed the buttons over and over and over again.  They crashed them about and played in a dis-organized, more destructive manner.  Not to mention the noise and type of play drove me completely up the wall.  The noise and the flashing lights seemed to hinder their concentration.  Much like having the TV constantly in the background does.  Then there is the environmental factors....The ongoing cost of batteries to both the pocket and the environment, the fact that when they break they go to landfill never to break down, the fact that they are not made from sustainable materials. 

So after some careful watching and studying of which toys encouraged the type of 'indoor' play I was after, I started encouraging family to support me in this.  I talked to them about what I was noticing.

I clarified what I wanted our indoor play space to look like and how I wanted our house to run.  I wanted the kids to play without any of us feeling overwhelmed.  I wanted play to bring joy, learning and mindfulness rather then chaos, clutter and noise.  I believe play is very much a child's work and given the right tools, it can really assist in problem solving and imagination.  The thing I noticed about flashing, noisy toys was that the toy dictated how the play was carried out.  I noticed the noisy toys enabled my child to not have to think.  For us I think it ideally should be the child who creates the game and the story and the toy should simply be a tool to assist the child in their process.  We still have some talking toys, but they are the exception now rather then the norm.  I am not a purist in any of my thoughts.  I take bits and bobs from all places and mold them until I create something that suits our life.    

The boys have both wooden/natural toys and plastic toys.  Most of the plastic toys are from prior to us working out we wanted to live more simply.  But the tough fisher price toys are durable which helps when we have over-excited, boisterous little people come to visit!

With this in mind I started talking to the boys about how clutter affects both them and I.  How too many toys means there is much more tidying, and the time this takes and the fact it takes away from having fun and spending time together.  That having "too much" makes it harder to pack up. (And what kid enjoys packing up?!)

I want to provide the boys with a diversity of toys.  Not just traditional 'boys' toys.  (because seriously, what is that about??) Because I want to raise boys that are sensitive, and that have the opportunity to explore all aspects of themselves.  Little boys are highly loving and emotional,  They are not all cars/building/crashing and mud. (though there is a lot of that!)

They love to 'cook' meals, set the table and serve their creations.

Here is their 'quiet' corner where they can bring their pillows and 'read' their books to unwind.  

So I wanted our children's toys to be grouped into categories to make tidying/sorting/finding easier.  I wanted them to be diverse so we have both trucks, tools, cars, blocks, dolls, a kitchen and things like that, without it being extreme and unmanageable.  I wanted them to be simple so we started being more conscious of the types of toys we put in their space.  I started thinking of sustainability so we try to source toys made from timber, or natural fibers.  I wanted to support small local people when possible rather then the "big 5" so I try to buy from an educational catalog that helps with fundraising for church, a local market, Etsy, make it myself or fair trade whenever possible.  Now I'm not completely rigid to this but this is my goal when ever I can.
This is the bulk of the boys toys.  There is Lego in the big blue tub, musical instruments, cars and trucks.  The half basket has wooden blocks and other small wooden toys. The baskets at the bottom contain various groups of toys.  Puzzles in one, dolls things/dr kit in another, Peppa pig in another and some assorted things in the last.  

Both the bedrooms have a few other things but not much.  William has his few 'treasures' his rock collection, his collecting cards and the boys have a basket of matchbox cars and a beautiful garage grant built them.  There is a large tub of duplo and a train set which we will screw to a board that grant built to go under a bed and then donate the excess.  There is too much train set for it to be useful.  It will remain constant process for us and we go through toys often to find things to donate. 

As you can see we are not toy minimalists.  I have beautiful, magical memories of the time I spent creating games in my mind and the hours I spent absorbed in play with my toys.  But with three boys in a small house I'm happy with our systems and our various play spaces. 

xx
2

How we manage toys. Part 1 - Gift giving

One of the things I have been working on to find a balance with is toys, both the amount and type my children have.  Its a sign of the times when one has a problem with too many toys in their house isnt it?!  Such a crazy problem to have.  But we have a few strategies/thoughts which help us deal with this which I will write a few posts on over the week.  Im thinking...

How we manage toys
Part one - Gift giving
Part two - Identifying what you want your child's play space to look like
Part three - Donating/rotating/managing toys

One of the things we have in abundance in our house is toys.  People who love the children love to dote on them and often this includes giving toys!  Which is nice to a degree and certainly generous but most parents I talk to today feel overwhelmed with the amount of toys that are in their home.  It creates clutter, it creates noise, it doesn't mean the child is any more entertained, in fact in my experience having too many toys actually hinders my child's concentration.

I love that people want to spoil our children, and I know they are coming from a place of love and good intentions.  Because of this I can't generally bring myself to set hard and fast gift giving rules for the family.  Though we do have a "no electronics" rule.  Our boys are welcome to buy themselves a gaming thing when they can consciously save their money and plan for it, and then hopefully care enough about it too look after it.  But I suspect that is many years off in our house which suits me just fine.

When we started out on our simple living path, toys were one of the early issues that was on my mind.  I'm a bit soft and don't like to upset people or force my opinion on them, so I have been gently trying to encourage less gift giving, only giving one gift, and giving 'simpler' toys over the years.  Slowly and steadily this gentle method is working well.  My family often asks for ideas and I make sure I'm prepared with a list of things I know the boys will enjoy, but that are not necessarily toys.  Often it is something they need but I do try and make it a little more of a 'fun' thing.  For Gussy's birthday my parents are buying him a quilt cover with vintage planes on it which he will love and it will go beautifully with the wall hangings I made here.... wall hangings.  He is starting Kindy this year and my brother is getting him a brand new bag which will also be very special, but practical too.

There are some cool kids gift ideas, I like to think ahead and something that they will grow into.  Here is a few winners in our place.... 
- bathers/beach towel
- adult coffee table photo books of things they love  (Will got a beautiful world atlas and Guss a vintage planes book for Christmas which they each take to bed and study intently)
- quilt covers
- Pj's
- sleeping bag/camping gear
- torch
- flashing safety lights for bike
- gardening pots/paint to decorate/seeds/seedlings
- puzzles
- money to buy a large joint gift like lessons or an instrument.  Will is learning to play guitar and one Christmas the boys each got a guitar.  Will got a 3/4 size and Angus a 1/2 size.  They love them and the lessons are doing Williams concentration a world of good.
- Handmade simple raggedy quilt (my boys love theirs, I might give Henry one for his second birthday)
- school supplies like a pencil case and things for the new school year.
 - clothing for their special teddy/doll.  (My boys Waldorf dolls have a black felt eye mask and a cape - they love it!)



A gift doesn't have to be expensive for a child to love it.  A bit of thought goes a long way!

I find I have pretty thoughtful friends and family and I make an effort to talk to them about what kinds of things their children would like/need at birthdays/Christmas.  I aim to give a thoughtful and simple gift that works with what life they are trying to give their children.  I find if I am thoughtful and considerate of them, they are more likely to ask me and then we can have an open communication on the topic which is much nicer. 

This Christmas my Mum realized she was putting too much pressure on herself to buy gifts for the kids.  She has a limit she likes to spend but she often shops on sale so ends up giving several gifts.  While its lovely and generous, it is too much for both the children and her.  She is trying to be fair but in the end it takes away from her experience of gift giving if it is hard.  So we were talking about it and I think she has decided to give one gift, and then if she feels the need to make a set monetary amount she will give some money to go into their account.  I'm thrilled with this and I know she is happy too.  The children want to spend time with their special people in their lives, and that is more of a gift then anything you can buy at the shops! 

When it comes to gift giving I am honest in advance about our financial situation, we have enough but cant afford to throw around money.  Most of our friends with children we don't buy for and they don't buy for ours unless it is a child's party.  Then its something small like a book or something similar.  I don't try to live simply to "keep up with the Jonse's" and I refuse to step into constant gift giving.  I'm not interested in how much others spend.  I spend what I deem to be suitable and what we can afford and try to give something the child will love.  Gift giving should be a joy not a burden nor stressful!  I find once the gift giving for the sake of it routine is broken, everyone is relieved!  I have never had anyone get upset at me over it.  If they have they have not told me and that's fine too.  Aunties and Uncles have a limit of $25-$35 which I suggested a few years ago when we were all low on funds.  This has stuck and it works great!  It takes so much pressure off at Christmas especially, which makes for more a more relaxing and fun time.  This year I made the girls Waldorf dolls which would have been over that limit due to the cost of materials but that's fine.  It was a special gift.  Their birthday gifts will be accessories for their dolls and will only cost a few dollars but will take time for me to sew and make so it all evens out in the long run.

Hope your having a marvelous Monday!

xx   
  

4

Pictures from our days...

Grant has been unwell this week so things have been busy here.  He is on the improve now which is lovely.  On the weekend we will be shuffling furniture and setting up the new room in the 'shed'  Ill post pictures of it all when its done.  Its still waiting on its skirting boards at the moment.  We ended up just sealing the cement but I like the rustic look.  With a rug and furniture it will do nicely.  It will be a room with kids and dogs so the hardy floor will suit us well. 

We have had a lovely couple of days visiting friends and the kids have had a blast which is why I have not posted over the last couple of days, life gets busy! 

So today I thought I would show some photos of a normal morning here.  Nothing special, just the ordinary things that fill our days.  


The clutter from the week is building up, it always does by friday!  One of my favorite saying is...

"A house should be clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy"

 Our kitchen counter is home to growing piles of paperwork, toys, bits and bobs and my sons bugs.  Because what else would you have on the kitchen bench?!  I am relieved these ones don't seem to be able to climb.  They are burrowing bugs.....


Will loves looking them up in his bug text book.....

Handmade wooden toys sitting on the shelves from local markets when we have been on holidays....I love the simplicity of handcrafted toys.  Its interesting to watch how the boys play with them in comparison to loud/noisy toys.  As a result we are phasing out loud noisy toys!


The boys playing in the lounge.....


Every time I see this sign on their play kitchen it makes me smile. 



It's a lazy day at home today, there is washing drying, baking to do, dinner to think about and a day to start.....better get moving!

Happy Friday! 

xx
 
6

Waylaid plans...

This weekend we rushed.  We should have slowed down, we should have taken a moment to stop and think and SEE our children were ratty and changed plans to accommodate.  Instead we pushed on with our own agenda and it was tiring and disappointing.

I swear our boys woke up fighting.  At that stage we should have stopped, and reassessed the day.  Instead went to Bunnings where they continued to fight, bicker and whine while we were in the isle looking at stains/paints etc.  After what seemed like forever trying to work out the Australian equivalent product, to the American ones whilst growing more and more confused and the boys becomming increasingly ratty I looked down at the sealed concrete floor, over at the shelf where I noticed concrete sealer then across to grant and said "lets just seal the concrete and put down a rug."  After a very brief , discussion deciding that the cement floor was smooth enough to go straight over we grabbed a can of sealer and a can of stuff to clean the crap off the cement.  Because of course we were planning on covering the cement with the quirky paper bag tutorial and the floor was paint splattered.  We let the kids have a quick play on the playground and we had a cuppa and then high tailed it outta there as the kids were beginning to resemble angry little tassie devils....

At least this grumpy little tissue devil can be contained and wrapped up!  

Saturday night I went to a 21st of a young man from church.  It was really nice to catch up and hang out with everyone there.  I like my church, I love the diversity of ages.  The oldies and their wisdom, the youth and their energy and ideas.  Its a great place to be.  It feels like "home".  He is such a nice young fella.  So kind, warm and generous of himself.  He has a very strong faith and I know that will carry him well in where ever he goes in his life.  

I was tired on Sunday and for one of the very few Sundays I missed church.  Grant was feeling unwell and I was really tired after a late night.  Grant still had to go to the markets to pick up veggies for the shop and picked me up a 10kg box of sauce tomatoes.  Which I was determined to get through and bottle into pasta sauce.  See where this is leading?...insert another long experience of tedious, fighting whiny children, a husband trying to sleep and and copious amounts of mess.  I did get my sauce done and eventually the boys went to bed to sleep well.  

Aside from that the weekend consisted of Grant working in the shed, washing, tidying the constant mess the boys created.

Oh and I killed my sourdough already....

You know when you have a weekend when so many little things go wrong it almost gets funny?  Last night  once the kids were in bed Grant and I flopped on the couch and looked at each other with raised eyebrows and simultaneously agreed that it had been a looong weekend.

Basically we as a family were out of rhythm.  None of us were listening to each other, we all had our own agendas of tasks we wanted to complete when we should have stopped, gone for a walk, taken time to REALLY chat and listen and then re-shuffle our job list and re-prioritize what HAD to be done compared to what we WANTED to get done.

So today I have no expectations.  The little boys will be at child care for their one day/week which is very new for them and they have a short day while they adjust.  Once they are settled in to childcare and school is back I'm hoping to do a little study, help with paperwork at the shop and perhaps work on my doll making if time allows.  Well thats the plan.

Today I will be putting a chook in the slow cooker for a one pot no-hassle dinner with veggies for simple dinner.  The washing needs to be brought in and then I am going to make some sewing my priority at some stage.  My nerves are frayed and I need to focus through my jumbled thoughts and fill my tank.  Sewing is a medium which allows me to do this.  I find it so soothing, I think that the importance of creativity is often underestimated.  There is something rhythmic and slow about handcrafting an item which is good for my soul.  William is looking forward to doing some Lego in peace and some craft so I think he is keen for some quiet time as much as I am.  I'm sure we will spend some nice time together today.  We will just take it as it comes. 

What are your plans?  I hope you can find some time for yourself to fill your tank too.  <3

xx
 



6

Seasons, we all have them!

When I thought about writing a blog I decided early on I always wanted to be honest and show the truth of our lives.  Both the ups and the downs.  I feel all to often with social media we only see the highlight reals of people's lives.  I don't blame them, showing our weaknesses makes us feel vulnerable but I want to show all of it.  Some of the most valuable lessons which have shaped our lives have come from our difficulties.  There is beauty in that too.  So either the 5 or 50 readers who read this can see it's ok to stumble too.  I hope to look back in 5 years time I and see where we were compared to where we are and appreciate the path we have walked, detours and all!

There are people who are living 'more simply' then me, who are deeper into their journey.  I'm O.K. with that because for me, it is not a race.  There are times where I have cooked/prepared pretty much everything we ate, cleaned with, preserved from scratch, and there are times where I have not.  Even in the difficult times we kept in mind our values and took steps toward them when we could.

The thing with simple living is that it is not a competition.  Its a gentle journey.  Its OK to get sidetracked or stumble.  That is quite simply the seasons of life and we all have them. (though peoples highlight reals on social media may make it look like they don't, but don't be fooled I promise!) Illness, new babies, job changes, family problems are some of the things that can waylay us in our goals and there are many, many others.  The most important thing is that we get pack up and keep moving in the general direction when we can.

The period following our third baby has been like that.  It was a difficult and tiring time, beautiful but that is a story for another day.  The nice thing is we are now entering a period where we are venturing deeper again with our simple living lifestyle.  We have a full time staff member starting this week which is AMAZING.  Having Grant home more (he is doing roughly a normal working week now). means I can re-focus my energy on the household.  We are working hard towards our dream of owning small acreage.

When we first bought the shop 4 years ago Grant was working 6am-7pm, coming home to see Will and put him to bed then going back out to work for a couple more hours, falling into bed exhausted and then doing it again, 7 days a week.  I was working two or more days a week as a RN and it was a tough time for our then little family.  Over the years his hard work has paid off.  To where we are today employing one of our staff full time, I am at home full time with our boys and we are about to put the house on the market and getting ready to buy our small acreage.  It feels good.  We quite like hard work, Its rewarding.  But we like to be working together.  We are not a family that does well being apart and sometimes the business has felt like it goes against our simple living desires.  But no one is going to give us a farm (small acerage is a stepping stone) so it means we are simply going to have to earn it and gosh when we get one (oneday!) I think I may just roll in its dirt like a happy pig in the mud! And then roll our sleeves up because the one thing I can guarantee with Grant is that it will be a "fixer-upper" and a "bargain". ;)

That ramble aside....Some days just need cake!  I feel cake (particularly chocolate cake, and it HAS to have icing) often adds a touch of 'magic' to an otherwise normal old day!  So Will and I baked a cake....


And here the boys are enjoying it for dessert.  :)

Our cherry and roma tomatoes are beginning to ripen, they are not perfect as it has been a very strange season in SA.  It is currently cool and raining with a lovely breeze and only a week ago it was 40degreesC.  The poor old plants don't know whats happening!

We have just pottered about today,  doing a few odd jobs.  After the chaos of the weekend I now feel calm and collected.  The boys are happier as they had a break from each other and we are back in beat with one another.  I'm going to nip inside and do some sewing in a minute which I have been looking forward too all day. 

This unseasonal rain we are having is just lovely for us though!  The garden is getting a good, long deep drink and I am sitting outside while writing this enjoying the cool breeze.  The birds are singing, the chimes are ringing....Bliss! 

May there be some beauty in your day too. 
Xx




2

Just pottering about...

To the lovely readers who have left comments - I'm so sorry I did reply to them all, just not correctly but I have cut and pasted them to your actual comments now - sorry!  I'm very much still learning the program.  :)
xx 

Following on from yesterday - My friend loved her fresh cut garden herbs and greens and exclaimed "this is better then flowers!"  Win!! The boys had a nice play and we came home for lunch and an afternoon nap all round.
We never leave without full drink bottles of water, a peice of fruit each and usually some plain crackers.  These boys have bottomless pits of stomachs!  And a bit of preperation saves a lot of money buying stuff (usually crap) on the road.

The big boys got a hair cut at the local barber with Grant in the afternoon but I'm thinking I might invest in a pair of clippers for the sides and scissors to do the top then do it myself.  I cut their hair when they were very small but as they got bigger they have gone with their Dad to the barber.  Then we went for a lovely drive through the local country and checked out a property Grant has his eye on....Grant has the prize in his eye and has drastically picked up the speed of the work he is doing around this place.  He wants to finish this place quickly and get it on the market, so he can have a shot at the the small acreage he is eying off.  There is no stopping him when he gets an idea in his head.  He has been busy lining out the shed, it's nearly finished.  I'll do a post on that next week.  We are going to experiment with paper bag floors, sounds strange but it's cool I promise.  And most importantly affordable and hard wearing.

Today we are having a nice quiet day just pottering about.  I had a couple of loads of sheets/underlays/blankets to do as one of the boys wet through and then just a bit of baking, and maby some sewing.  Completely ordinary day but lovely.... Aside from the screaming, moody toddler who just woke up from his nap on the wrong side of the bed..... 😳

"Don't worry Ronnie, we are here"  there is a bit of thunder about today so Ronnie the boarder collie is seeking comfort inside.  ❤️💚💜💙💛

Gathering things fresh from the garden to cook with, Such a simple joy!

This morning we nipped to the local bake/brew shop where we picked up a few things I needed.  I have had a productive period in the kitchen this morning!  It always feels great to get an uninterrupted run to do things.  Doesn't happen often with young children but I LOVE it when it does!
Milk Keifer, sourdough starter and spinach and feta bread.  It's delicious! 

I started a sourdough starter today - way quicker then I thought.  I dont know why I  ever thought it would be complex??  Its literally a 3 minute job.  I really enjoy a good sourdough loaf and its meant to be good for you so that's a bonus.  Often its actually the idea of something which is more daunting then the actual task.  When will I ever learn??

I also started a milk keifer fermentation thingo.  I'm sure there is a more technical and accurate term for it but its over my head!  Basically milk keifer is a fermented milk.  Full of good bacteria and you can drink it, or use it anywhere you would normal milk.  Also good for the gut.  Its really simple so this is a little project I'm looking forward too!  Simple is right up my alley.  I'm a perfectly capable cook but I'm not into fancy or complicated.  Just good, tasty, healthy food.  

A plain loaf of bread is whirring away in the bread maker and I have a loaf of spinach and feta bread in the oven now which my eldest helped me with.  The spinach, spring onions and eggs are fresh from our garden and chooks.  It really does feel awesome to nip outside and grab what we need.  It was nice to spend a bit of time one on one with Will cooking in the kitchen.  He is getting so capable and big.  We used to cook all the time but with two little brothers now it gets trickier. He is a wise gentle soul that child.  Its funny how children from the same family can be so different!

Happy Friday!  Wishing you a lovely, relaxing weekend. 

Xx
10

Simple Birthday gifts.

Today the weather has cooled and its lovely here now, there has been some nice rain which will have done my gardens a world of good.  The bush fires in the area are mostly under control now.  Today we are catching up with some friends of ours for an early morning play date.  My eldest Will is very excited.  His friend is home schooled and they don't get to catch up much due to this difference but are great mates when they do.   I'm looking forward to a nice little drive and a very relaxing morning while the kids play and amuse themselves so we Mama's can put our feet up!  Now if my dear husband would just come back with the milk so I can have my coffee all would be right in the world.....the little kids had the last of it on their cereal.......oh the sacrifices of a motherhood!  They are on very strict dietary restrictions so I might pick some greens/spring onions/herbs from the garden to bring to give her, I know she will enjoy the healthy home grown produce.  

My 3 yr Angus old is turning 4 in a couple of weeks.  I cant believe he is getting so big!  He is such a snuggle pot and is a total cheeky monkey.  His big brown eyes melt hearts and he knows it all to well.  He is a real cruiser, loves to be close and secure but happy going along doing his own thing as well.   He brings us so much laughter and joy!

Seeing as Christmas has just passed there is very little he actually NEEDS.  And we have more then enough new toys and books in the house to be honest which has made me think a little harder.

The great thing about little kids they have no concept of money.  Well mine don't.  Except you have to have it to buy stuff.  And also my boys don't get toys all the time so they are pretty easily pleased.  Which makes birthdays and stuff easier.

Gussy loves all things that fly.  Planes, birds, dragons.  He is flying obsessed.  Not at all helped by a good family friend who is doing his pilots license is also flying obsessed and encourages Gussy's plane/flying fetish at every possible opportunity.  (Thanks Dave, flight school is going to cost us a fortune!)

The other week when we were on our family adventure picking up the caravan I stumbled across a country craft fair.  (woo hoo!!) There was a lovely fabric stall from a local lady who ran her quilting business off her farm.  Unfortunately I lost her details so cant link her here.  She was lovely and had some beautiful fabrics.  I bought some cool airplane and cloud fabric here.....



Which I plan to do some DIY artwork with to decorate his room.  Its really simple, just stretch them in some nice timber embroidery hoops and hang!  I did some in ours of some of my favorite fabrics a while back like this....


(Yes that is my childhood bear on my bed in matching pjs to the fabric on the wall.....the kids like to cuddle him when they are sad or unwell. #geekysecretsout #bigsoftie )

 So I need search my fabric cupboard to find anything I have that may tie in and then if not nip down to my local quilt shop.

I ended up doing it before I actually put up this post.  Here it is here but it will look much better when it's properly hung on his wall!


He also loves Toothless the dragon from the movie "How To Fly Your Dragon"He did have a much loved plastic toy but his wings sadly broke off and I found a gorgeous pattern for a soft one instead which will hopefully withstand more vigorous loving! Here is the link to him here...http://lavastormsw.deviantart.com/art/Toothless-Tutorial-Part-1-387940344

So I need to nip down to spotlight and grab some black minky for him.  I have wool for stuffing at here and some qood quality wool felt for his other bits.

He also needs a new hat for kindy in the new year so I think that will about do him.  We have a tradition of picking your birthday cake from the old women's weekly cookbook which we make and decorate the night before.  I bake and decorate, Grant cuts/sculpts them.  Drawing and proportions are not my strong point and he always takes over the 'building' part and I do the 'artistic' parts.  Its great fun and the kids just love it!  They sometimes come out a little wonky but hey!  ;)  I'm sure we will see some friends or family somewhere along the line.

Ill let you know how it all goes - Oh the cavalry is here with the milk! Time to start the day.   

Xx
 
6

Renovating on a budget.


We like renovating....mostly.  Well we do out of necessity.  We own a small country general store and post office which my husband manages with the help of our couple of staff.  It can be long hours and the past few years we have but in some long hard yards to get to where we are now.  I am at home with the little ones managing things here.  In a past life I was a Registered Nurse.....That seems like a world ago!  Most day I dont miss it one little bit.  Anyway it means we are restricted to a small budget which forces us to get creative.  Which, as it turns out, is incredibly rewarding and satisfying.  More so then we ever found buying thrings from the store.  To be able to say "I made this" is simply awesome.  

When we first bought this little place there was a terrible falling apart, mis-matched, broken chip board kitchen which was well beyond repair.  It was water damaged, doors were falling off, draws were swollen shut and it was crumbly.  It was part of the reason we got this house so cheap.  here it is here...













We couldn't afford to go out and buy a new kitchen.  But the kitchen was only partly usable in the condition it was so I started looking on gumtree for kitchens.  Only halfheartedly at the time.  Then I realized how much fantastic quality stuff people upgrade because they don't like the color, or style or something else aesthetically minor.  I found a beautifully made, solid, well built timber kitchen, with a stainless smeg 5 burner gas cooker, electric oven, and dishwasher on ebay and we scored the lot for $1500.  Grant drove to house, picked it up and brought it home and ripped out our old one....


He then re-configured it so it fitted our kitchen.  He stripped back the counters which we oiled and we painted the once dark timber kitchen a lovely duck-egg blue. 


It even came with a good pantry which fitted perfectly against this wall.  It still needs its top decorative edging replaced.  It also came with a big solid kitchen breakfast bar which went well in our old shop as part of the old counter top.  By doing up a more Traditional style kitchen we managed to not have to replace the floor tiles as they don't look out of place.  We simply got in a professional cleaner with her industrial floor scrubber and this brought the grout back to its original color.  This small job made a big difference and suddenly brought out the creamier tones in the tiles.  Also by painting the kitchen a a pretty pale blue it helped the floor seem more neutral as well rather then the grey/orange it originally looked.  Every one asked if we had changed the flooring just by a bit of careful consideration in our work, we altered the color palate and which colors were highlighted.  We picked a simple white tile for the splash back which was the end of a lot and on clearance so saved money there again.  We have got to paint the walls still and the timber work which will lighten it all again.  All in all the entire kitchen reno, including labor for the gas/electrical, cost us about $2500.   



It is a lovely kitchen to work in, and has such a welcoming friendly feel.  It is heavy and well built throughout and the Smeg appliances are by far the best I have ever used.  The dishwasher we gave to my brother as we already had one.  Renovating doesn't have to cost a fortune.  Its AMAZING what you can find out there if your willing to think outside the square and do a bit of hard work!  This is now how we buy most things if possible and we are saving HUGE money.  I love the quirkiness up-cycling.  There is a uniqueness about it which appeals to me!

xx



8
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